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How to Choose Pioneer Patterns

For a printable PDF of this article, click  How to Choose Pioneer Patterns.

Everyone has a different level of interest in wearing historic clothing. If you are excited by the idea, and daydream about using your pioneer clothes over and over, you may be most interested in highly accurate clothing from the skin out. If you’ll be dressing as a pioneer only once or twice, and don’t really consider yourself the “time travel” sort, you can get a good pioneer flavor without worrying over every historic detail—and without being so obviously modern that you’re visually jarring for others.

You can use the free patterns in this digital book, as well as on-line at to create many easy, accurate pieces of a pioneer wardrobe. Every free article and pattern on the site is copyrighted with full permission granted to freely share and photocopy for personal, ward, stake, or site educational use.

Right now, it’s not possible to give full dress, trouser, vest, and coat patterns to print at home, so you’ll want to choose some commercially published patterns for those items. Please keep in mind that purchased patterns are protected by copyright and licensing rights, just as these free patterns are. It is important to observe the Church’s policy on use of copyrighted patterns, as well as the copyright restrictions from each publisher. In general, for any of the patterns listed below, plan for each family to buy their own patterns. Making photocopies or tracings of the patterns listed below, or copying the instructions or illustrations, violates US copyright law, even if you are not selling the copies. Continue reading

How to Host a Work Day

For a printable PDF of this article, click How to Host a Work Day.

While pioneer clothing uses only basic shapes and techniques, many people may not have confidence in their sewing abilities. Organizing a group sewing day is a great way to teach sewing skills, boost confidence, and complete historic clothing projects quickly. Use a sewing day for a young women’s activity or Relief Society Activity Group. Plan for a two-hour session; this is long enough to complete a sunbonnet, or an apron, or a petticoat. To do all three in one day, plan for a Saturday, midmorning to mid-afternoon. Continue reading

Overlander Foods

For a printable PDF of this article, click Overlander Foods .

When planning meals for a trek experience, keeping some key concepts in mind can enhance the experience for all. Focusing on historic food items that are pleasing to the modern palate, you add another dimension to the trek experience.

Good Taste
First on the list is good flavor! You’ll want to plan menu items that taste good, andare familiar enough to satisfy the taste buds without upsetting the digestive tract. Beans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner may be one historic option, but the sudden addition can be traumatic to the digestive system of many! Plan tasty, fairly-familiar dishes.

The trek experience generally involves a lot of physical exertion, and in some very challenging climates. Hot weather plus exertion can cause a person to work through their nutrients and electrolytes more quickly than they otherwise would. Rather than falling back on chemical preparations, plan foods that help replenish the body. You’ll cut down on the gear burden, and improve health. Continue reading

Why Dress Like a Pioneer?

For a printable copy of this article, including suggested clothing charts, click Why Dress Like a Pioneer.

During the mid-19th century, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dressed very much like their non-LDS counterparts. Their lives, too, were very much like any other life of similar location and livelihood.  Their personal tests and trials may have been different from our own today, but there are many similarities, and much we can learn from their tragedies and triumphs, and most particularly, from their faith.

Dressing in historic clothing is one way to form an immediate connection to the past. When we take on their clothing, we get a better feel for the physical conditions of their lives. We step outside our own known world, and enter theirs, for just awhile, setting aside our daily worries and distractions. We can have some wonderful “time travel” moments, when it feels as though the veil is very thin, and our pioneer friends are standing right beside us, encouraging us in our personal journeys.

Not everyone wants to play pretend to the same degree of immersion, however. This dressing plan allows for multiple stages of historic clothing, from the basic flavor of the past, to a fully authentic wardrobe. By setting an expectation of participation at the basic level or above, a variety of personal preferences and budgets can be accommodated without compromising the “time travel” moments of those who prefer a more immersive experience. Continue reading

Make a Shawl

For a printable PDF of this project, click Make a Pioneer Shawl.

The simplest outer wrap for a mid-19th century person is a wool shawl.  Infants, small children, girls, women, even men might wear a wool shawl to keep warm! Your pioneer shawl can wrap around your shoulders when its cool out, be drawn over your head when its misty, or spread out on the ground for a picnic blanket when the sun is shining.  It doesn’t take up much packing space, and has so many uses that you’ll find it’s an indispensable part of a pioneer wardrobe.

Continue reading

Preparing for Your Trek

For a printable version of this article, click Preparing for Your Trek.

Handcart Trek experiences can be among the most formative of your life! Pulled out of your everyday routines, and living out of doors for a few days, you’ll find yourself more open to the Spirit. The connections to our past, and the real stories of life and struggle and joy of our ancestors, are tremendously valuable aspects of the Trek.

As with any big experience, there are important physical and mental preparations you’ll want to undertake, to help you get the most from your time in the past. Continue reading

© 2012 Elizabeth Stewart Clark. All Rights Reserved.